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Let me preface this by saying specifically that I do not consider shooting matches to be training and I do not consider myself to be a bad-ass tactical know-it-all because I’m pretty good at them, however, I will say, you can learn a lot from shooting matches, if you so choose.

I have been accused of being a gamer time and time again at shooting matches because I shoot fast. There is a concept I agree with, and that I have repeated to people many times: “Fast” is not always gaming but “slow” is not always tactical. Sometimes slow is just simply lack of speed, and if I happen to be able to shoot faster than you can, it doesn’t mean I’m a gamer. There are very seldom absolutes in anything. Sometimes you need to move quickly, and sometimes you need to move slowly.

If you are standing in the open and three or four people walk up and attack you (a fairly common IDPA scenario), I truly believe you had better move fairly quickly. I would venture a guess that if three or four people are trying to kill you at the same time from five yards away, you don’t have the fifteen or twenty seconds to take care of that problem like many people seem to think you’ll have.

I have noticed a trend among some trainers to take the “speed” of competition to an opposite extreme. A stage that will take a moderate shooter fourteen or fifteen seconds to complete, will take a “tactical trainer” sixty or seventy seconds to complete, sometimes longer. I’m not referring to a house clearing stage where it makes sense to move slowly and methodically, but a “standard” scenario that represents the good guy being attacked by several armed bad guys in the open from very close distances.

The tactical instructor will draw his gun, get a good long sight picture, and shoot his first target at the five or six second mark, then slowly move on to target two, three, etc. He will amble over to cover and take ten or twelve seconds to perform a tactical reload (which is pretty much worthless in the middle of a gunfight, btw. The tactical reload is and always was intended to be an administrative action, not a gunfight technique) then shoot at the remaining two or three targets, taking another twenty or thirty seconds to shoot “tactically” from around the barricade he’s behind. I haven’t been in all that many gunfights (and neither have most other instructors) but I can’t imagine having sixty or seventy seconds to “do your thing” if you are being attacked by three or four bad guys.

A few years ago, a guy showed up to our matches for a few weeks and decided that he was going to “teach” us all how to be gunfighters. His reasoning was that slow is always better, no matter what. For instance, a scenario that represented an ATM attack where you had no cover and were attacked by three bad guys at close distances, would take him twenty or thirty seconds to complete. When I asked him why it was better to take twenty or thirty seconds instead of three or four, he would always argue that all his shots were “perfect” and all mine were scattered. All my shots would be in the vital area on the target, but all his would be right in the center of the chest. He was trying to get every shot on a target in the same hole. I asked him if he really thought he would have that much time in a real gunfight with three attackers at three or four yards, and he always said “sure.” He also told us how we, if any of us were ever involved in a shooting would all be sued for “shooting too fast” and he would never be sued because he took his time. I assured him several times he was right at least about not being sued, since he would be dead if he tried to take twenty seconds to shoot three men that were shooting back at him from three or four yards. He never seemed to understand my point, however. Go figure.

Another trend I have noticed more and more is the “combat dancing” maneuver some use while reloading. While I think it’s a good idea to move quickly to cover if you can, and I concede that statistically, you will never need to reload in a gunfight, if you ever actually have to reload, standing in the open while doing so is completely futile, even if you are moving. I have proven (and so have others) in various demonstrations, if you are within typical confrontation distance, you cannot move so fast that I cannot hit you with a projectile from my handgun. Move to cover if cover is available, but don’t stand in the open dancing back and forth thinking you are safe from incoming gunfire. At your typical confrontation distances, even an untrained, inept bad guy is likely to hit you, even if you’re moving, especially if you give him time to fire several shots.

Anyway, those who can’t, teach, as they say. I’m not the world’s greatest teacher. In fact, I’m not really a very good instructor at all. However, I can say with some confidence that you don’t want to be a person I’m shooting at, and if you walk up to me with a gun drawn with intent to harm me, you’d better shoot me as you’re walking up...and you’d better hit me in a vital zone...and you’d better hit it several times...and you better hit it quickly...because if you don’t do all of that to me, I’m going to do all of that to you. A lot. And fast.

Robert V. Robinson
My Experience and Training: